She needs little introduction. Her name resonates loudly both within and outside the broadcasting profession. Bukola Coker is that pretty lady with an adorable smile on her face always, even when she is reading the news….CONTINUE READING
She is a broadcaster par excellence. Warm and simple looking on the outside, you would be shocked if you take that to mean she is possibly intellectually light upstairs. Do not be fooled by that façade. Bukola has under her belt a couple of University degrees and a Masters as well. If truth be told, in the broadcasting industry, they don’t come any better than the very eloquent and incredibly brilliant Bukola Coker.
She is young looking, extremely intelligent, fiercely focused and with a lot of accomplishments and awards to her name. Little wonder she is regarded as one of the finest female broadcasters you’ll possibly ever come across on this side of the globe. She started her career early at the age of 19, cutting her teeth under the mentorship of some of the biggest names in the profession at the time. And now, over two decades after, and blessed with three adorable kids, Bukola Coker, formerly Bukola Samuel-Wemimo, is still going strong, steadily leaving her own marks on the sands of time.
About two years ago, Bukola stunned everyone, including her fans and the viewing public, when she suddenly disappeared from TVC where she had spent about 14 years, only to reappear about two weeks after on the screens of the nation’s biggest broadcasting platform, Channels television! Not many saw this coming. The impression most people had was that Bukola was one of TVC’s brightest minds, so it was going to be extremely difficult for the station to let go of one of it’s prized possessions. But inexplicably, she left the station where she had made a name for herself and joined the prestigious Channels television, the media organisation she had always wanted to work all her life. She calls it her dream job, and one in which she has found profound fulfilment already in just two years.
City People’s Senior Editor, WALE LAWAL (08037209290) spent quality time engaging the very warm and likeable Bukola Coker. If you are a big fan of ladies with disarming smiles, then you can’t but love Bukola when you meet her for the first time. She opened up on a lot of things, including why she left TVC and how she started her journey in broadcasting. It’s a very revealing interview, enjoy excerpts of it.
You are regarded as one of Naija’s finest broadcasters at this time, with lots of awards and accolades under your belt. When you look back at your over two decades of practice as a broadcaster, how do these accolades make you feel?
Well, I’d be lying if I said I don’t feel flattered, that will not be true. I think it’s a mixture of glow and caution. Caution because I never want to get to a place where I can say I have arrived. We never arrive anyway, as journalists. Our last experience was our best and then we must build on it. It’s a bit of caution and a sense of fulfilment. I never want to get to a place where I’d feel that I have arrived and done it all. I am always working hard, maybe not working hard enough, particularly since my transition. I don’t want to get a sense of, okay, now that I have gotten my dream job, I can relax. So, I hope that answers your question.
Yes, absolutely. I remember that the last time I spoke with you, you said you were about 19 years old, and still in school at the time, when you started doing broadcasting stuff for Lagos Television (LTV). Now you’re an accomplished journalist, you’re a mother of about how many kids now?
Wow! And you don’t even look it at all. So, it’s been an exciting journey for you, from that 19 year old girl to who you are today. What would you say has been the high point of this journey for you and which part of the journey would you has been the most difficult one?
Okay, first of all, I must commend you, you have a very good memory. It’s true I started my career at 19 in my, what the Americans would call Sophomore, that’s my second year in the university. I guess the high points for me would be those periods in my career when my capacity and my talent were really, really tested. I can easily point to when I was really learning on the job. I didn’t study Mass Communication, so l learnt on the job starting out at Lagos Television. When I got that gig with Moyo Oyatogun on Star Fm, Daily Guide, it was a very popular show at the time and when I moved to TVC. But towards the end of my career at TVC, those were very challenging times for me, but they were also my best years. I think those were the periods of transitions for me. Those were the times I was doubted. Those were the times when I had to prove myself. Those were the times when I was under pressure to perform and those were the times that I did best. Towards the end of my career at TVC was when I won all those awards that make me the Bukola Coker that I am today, though back then I was Bukola Samuel-Wemimo. Towards the end of my journey at TVC, I scooped a number of awards, I think those were the high points for me, particularly those times when I did those investigative stories.
Of all the awards you have picked up, which one of them would you say you hold close to your heart and carries the most significance for you?
I think I’d say two or three of them. My very first which was given to me by your reputable organisation, that’s the City People Presenter of the Year Award, I think that was in 2017. The real icing on the cake for me was when I won the Television category for Wole Soyinka Investigative Journalist of the Year, 2020. In 2019, I won the Commendation category for Wole Soyinka Investigative Journalism. Yes, those three were most profound for me. They were very rewarding because I knew that I had given my best and I was hoping for some form of icing on the cake, some form of recognition and they came. They came from a place of hardwork, a place of prayer, in fact, from a place of pain because I recall that I really applied myself during those times of my life.
Tell us, who were your role models in broadcasting, starting from those days that you started out as a starry eyed, 19 year old young lady?
It will interest you to know that I wasn’t desirous of being a broadcaster. I was actually looking forward to being an actress and Joke Silver was the only role model I had at the time. But my mum would not allow me do Theatre Arts…
She was also a broadcaster, am I correct?
Yes, my mum is a retired journalist. She was pioneer staff of Radio Lagos Eko Fm. So, she wouldn’t let me do Theatre Arts. She said over her dead body would a daughter of hers do Theatre Arts because, according to her, “it was a profession for the promiscuous,” albeit it’s a misconception. But I understood and still understand her fears now because of the path that I walk now. I think I’m sort of grateful for not going into that field. So, that was mum’s position and she insisted that I pick something else. So, I eventually settled for first choice Law and second degree History and International Studies. I didn’t get a placement in my university of first choice, that’s University of Ibadan but since my mum was studying at LASU then, she was doing her own first degree, so it was just an easy ride into my admission, myself and my older brother at the time. So, I settled for History and International studies.
Sometime in year 2000, LASU went on strike and I chanced upon a programme on AIT, the very popular Lunch break presented then by Jumobi Adegbesan now Jumobi Mofe Damijo. That was my first big inspiration for television broadcasting. I spent a lot of my time watching it during the strike. After a while, I just told my mum that I could do it. I was very convinced that I could also present programmes and little wonder that, by some miracle or by some divine intervention, when I got my first platform for expression in television broadcasting, it was something similar, FULL HOUSE on LTV. I told my mum I could do it. My mum took me to her place of work, introduced me to her colleagues and that was how some senior broadcasters whom I consider fathers today took me under their wings and began to teach me, starting with News Presentation. And today, like they say, the rest is history. So, that was how I got into broadcasting. Perhaps if my mum wasn’t a journalist, maybe I would’ve eventually found myself involved in one form of acting or the other.
I eventually acted really, the same man who got me my first television broadcasting opportunity is a film maker and former General Manager and I believe he was Permanent Secretary at some point, Jimi Odumosu is his name. He got me a part in the movie, WIDOWS. That was around 2002/2003. That was the only film I ever featured in. But I did a lot of voice acting, voice over dramas before I settled fully into television broadcasting.
From the incredible job you did while handling FIREWORKS at TVC, it’s clear to see that, apart from casting the news, there are other areas of broadcasting that you can flourish in. Take us through some of those areas that you can also hold down pretty well..
Like I said, I am a very good voice over drama artiste, I thrive very well in that regard. I also teach Elocution, it’s just that I haven’t dedicated enough time to that aspect of my life. I’ve been a facilitator for a number of seminars on Elocution, I teach that very well. I do very good voice overs, I write scripts. I could even do some copy writing if I applied myself to it. I’ve done a bit of that in the past. But presentation is perhaps my favourite aspect of the job. I love interviewing. I’m not a production person. Not because I can’t do production, I can write, but I get easily bored with production. Presentation, interviewing and reportorial are my best parts of the job because they challenge my creativity, they expand my thinking capacity and they put me under pressure. And you know, you get the best out of some people when you put them under pressure.
Tell us about this your transition to your dream job, as you put it. A lot of people were surprised when they suddenly found you staring at them on another television station. That caught many by surprise because you were thought to be one of the strongest hands at TVC at the time. So, tell us, why did Bukola choose to leave TVC for Channels?
I have always admired Channels. Perhaps I should add some background information to this. When I finished my Youth Service, I served at Radio Bayelsa by the way, and when I finished I wanted to return to my former place of work, which was LTV, but then, things had changed considerably at Lagos Television. It was more crowded and at some point I was no longer challenged. I was practically looking for things to do and what I really wanted to do I was not given the opportunity to do it. I got restless and went searching for job elsewhere, so, eventually, I settled for something which seemed like the best offer at the time but which wasn’t quite what I wanted and that was Channels. The thing is, I went job hunting after I returned to LTV and you know, your employer can’t be particularly happy to know you’re looking for another job while still under his employ. So, while job hunting, the first place I went naturally was Channels. I have always admired Channels. I dreamed Channels. I loved their newscasters back in those days. I was wowed by Channels. So, I went to Channels but they were not recruiting, I went somewhere else and began talking with them and they were really going to employ me, then, somehow, my employer got to know that I was job hunting and he was not very happy. But at the time, my employer was also consulting for TVC which was just starting out and then, he forgave me my sin and gave me on a silver platter a job with TVC. That was how I started with TVC, but really I wanted to work with Channels television.
So, to answer your question directly, yes, I had spent about thirteen to fourteen years I believe at TVC. I joined them in 2007 and left 2021, that’s a long time. I had deferred my move to Channels for a number of years. I would’ve moved to Channels sometime in 2017when the offer first came but then I wanted to go and do my Masters. I went to do my Masters at Unilag and when I now wanted to move, it became a bit difficult for obvious reasons. And that was also one of the most difficult periods of my life. I began to pray. I began to really stretch myself doing those things that would give me visibility and somehow God crowned my efforts with success with all those awards and eventually the job came and I was grateful. I still am grateful. I won’t lie, it’s my dream place of work, at least within Nigeria. It’s number one, it’s the most credible in terms of news content, its believable and I dare say the best professionals in the job, so, I’m privileged.
That’s interesting, So, would it be safe to say you have certainly learnt new things you didn’t learn while you were at TVC at Channels now or it’s been a walk in the park for you having been really grounded on the job yourself before you moved to Channels?
It certainly hasn’t been a walk in the park o, it’s a difficult terrain. Channels is the most professional place to be and you can ask around. And I really want to be careful here, especially with my choice of words, but the truth is that Channels is highly thorough and strong on professionalism. For instance, at Channels, being first to publish is not the over all priority, it is very important that you check with your own reporter. They place so much value on professionalism. What we do on SUNRISE DAILY is a yeo man’s job which I wasn’t exposed to at TVC. There are some things that I am learning afresh at Channels. It’s a big challenge and it’s just as rewarding. Every time you’re preparing for a show, its like preparing for an exam, the same way I felt with FIREWORKS. It’s a brilliant experience. The feeling is unparalleled being a member of Channels. We produce well rounded broadcast journalism in that organisation. At Channels tv, you rise through the ranks from as Assistant Producer to Producer, from a Production Editor to Assistant Editor and from there to becoming an Editor. So, there is a natural, organic growth at Channels television. It’s also a healthy work environment where women are also given the opportunity for expression, so it’s not a male dominated environment, there’s gender balance. Even at management level, there are top ranking management executives who are females, and that’s what we are talking about. It’s a healthy work space where women are also given that place of expression at the leadership table. It’s a brilliant work space where welfare is prioritised. Our chairman is a God fearing man. He is a professional to the core. I doubt that he ever takes his eyes off his eyes off Channels television, little wonder why you have brilliant broadcasters at Channels. Do you know that sometimes chairman gets Breaking News, maybe in Sports, before the guys on the beat? And our vice chairman is also very passionate about the development of women in that organisation, she is very passionate about it.
Let me put you on the spot here, who amongst your colleagues would you say warmed up to you the most and went out of his or her way to help you settle into your new environment at Channels when you joined them about two years ago?
Oh, that’s an easy answer, Kayode Okikiolu (laughs). Kayode is a brother, Kayode is a friend. Kayode is a wonderful colleague.
Oh, that was easy, I thought you would have a hard time picking a name. So, he was the one who stepped out to try to make things easy for you around the place?
Yes, absolutely. He was very warm. He was very friendly. He always wanted to know how I was doing. He would talk to you, he would counsel you, so that made it very easy for us to easily become friends. Even now, he is one person to easily confide in. He’s my favourite to talk to at Channels, well, apart from Maupe. Everybody knows that I adore Maupe. Apart from Maupe on SUNRISE DAILY, he’s also my favourite on the programme….CONTINUE READING
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